African American Shoemakers and Shoe Repairers in Lexington, KY Prior to 1900
The term shoemaker was sometimes written as two words [shoe maker] in the early city directories. The making of shoes was one of the skilled labors performed by slaves throughout the South. Once slavery ended, former slaves used the skill in their businesses that were often operated out of their homes.
The industrial manufacturing and mass production of shoes greatly reduced the number of individual shoemakers. The names of the shoe factories, especially in Louisville, KY, can be found in city directories, along with the listing of shoemakers, both African American and white. In Lexington, KY, there was an abundance of African American shoemakers and a few shoe repairers. They are noted in the directories with (c), (col), (cld), or (col'd), all of which note the race of persons who were defined as "colored."
Below are the names of some of the African American shoemakers and shoe repairers located in Lexington, KY prior to 1900. Practically all were born in Kentucky.
- Sally A. Jackson was a shoe binder who lived on E. Short Street between N. Mulberry and Walnut. She was a free person listed in the Directory of the City of Lexington and County of Fayette for 1838 & '39.
- Micajah M. Mason was a shoemaker who lived on W. Water Street between N. Mill and Broadway. He is listed as a free man in the 1838-1839 directory and in the 1859-1860 directory when he lived on E. S. Mulberry between Short and Barr Streets.
- Edward Oliver was a boot and shoemaker. He lived at 4 E. Water Street and is listed as free in the 1838-1839 directory.
- Parker Pee (b. 1808 in KY) was a shoe and boot maker who lived at 23 W. Short Street. He is listed as free in the 1838-1839 directory and in the 1859-1860 directory when he was living on S. Main between Broadway and Spring Streets; he is also listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census.
- William Tanner, a shoemaker, lived on E. Short Street between Walnut and Bank Streets. He is listed as free in the 1838-1839 directory.
- Thomas Johnson (b. 1822 in KY) was a shoemaker on S. Broadway between Main and Water Streets. He is listed as a free man in the 1859-1860 directory and in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census.
- Isaac Robinson was a shoemaker who lived on S. Short Street between Spring and Jefferson. He is listed as a free man in the 1859-1860 directory, and as a cook living at 11 S. Broadway in the 1877-1878 directory.
- Moses Thomas, maker of boots and shoes, lived on S. Short Street between Broadway and Mill Streets. He is listed as a free man in the 1859-1860 directory.
- Andrew Bryant, Sr. (b. 1814 in KY) was a boot and shoemaker at Hunt's Row. He was born in Kentucky and lived on High Street between Upper and Mulberry Streets. Bryant was married to Myra Bryant, born in 1839 in KY. He is listed as a free man in Williams' Lexington [Kentucky] Directory, City Guide, and Business Mirror, Volume 1 - 1859-60 and is also listed in Maydwell's Lexington City Directory 1867.
- E. Dishman and Lawson Dishman were boot and shoemakers at 13 1/2 Water Street; both are listed in Sheppard's Lexington City Directory 1873 and 1874. Ebenezer Dishman, Sr. (1818-1901) and Lawson Dishman (1828-1899) were two of the sons of William and Frances Dishman. Ebenezer was born in Fayette County, KY, and was the husband of Georgiana Dishman (b. 1830). They are listed in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census as the parents of four children. Lawson Dishman, born in Fayette County, KY, was the husband of May Dishman. Lawson Dishman was a shoemaker and tanner. He is later listed in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82 as a shoemaker in Dill's Ally, 4th house west of Jefferson St. In the same directory is a listing for Ebenezer and his son, James E. Dishman (b. 1852), both listed as shoemakers at their home at 205 N. Upper Street. James E. Dishman was born in Fayette County, KY.
- Alex Burton (1873 and 1874) was a shoemaker at 13 1/2 Water Street; he lived in Guntown. By 1880, Burton had moved his business and family to Danville, KY.
- Lewis Morton (1873 and 1874) was a shoemaker at 175 E. Third Street.
- Harvey Young, born in 1814 in KY, had his shop at 159 Correll [Corral] Street. He was the husband of Susan Young, born in 1839 in KY. In 1880, 12-year old Daniel Bell lived with the Youngs. They are all listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Harvey Young's business is listed in Prather's Lexington City Directory 1875 and 1876. In Williams' Lexington City Directory 1864-65, Harvey Young was listed as a shoemaker with no race distinction. His home was on Water Street between Upper and Mulberry Streets.
- David French (b. 1822) was a shoemaker at 112 N. Upper Street, according to Prather's Lexington City Directory 1875 and 1876. Born in Kentucky, he was the husband of Hannah French, born in 1835 in KY.
- John Thomas (b. 1857) had his business in his home at 206 N. Limestone, which is listed in the R. C. Hellrigle and Co's Lexington City Directory 1877-78. Born in Kentucky, he was the son of Emma Thompson and the brother of shoemaker Charles Thomas [listed below].
- Silas Crowders sold shoes and boots at 267 N. Limestone, beside his home at 269 Limestone. His business is listed in Williams' Lexington City Directory 1881-82. There is an earlier listing for Silas Crowdus (b. 1824 in KY) in Prather's Lexington City Directory 1875 and 1876. He was a shoemaker located at 137 S. Broadway.
- Titus Buckner (1855-1936) was a minister and shoemaker. His business was at his home on Winslow Street between Upper and Limestone, according to William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82. [He was still repairing shoes in the 1930s according to a listing in Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory 1931-32.] Reverend Titus Buckner, born in Fayette County, KY, was the husband of Julia Buckner (b. 1856 in KY). The couple lived at 196 Eddie Street, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Titus Buckner was a widower by 1920. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, according to his death certificate.
- Price Buford (b. 1820 in KY) worked out of his home in Gill's Alley, the 9th house west of Jefferson Street, according to William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82.
- Evan Collins was a shoemaker who practiced his business at the home he shared with Charles Henderson, located in an alley between Spring, Lower, Maxwell, and Pine Streets. Collins is listed in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82.
- Isaac Johnson was a shoe repairer on Georgetown Street, 3rd house north of King. He is listed in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82.
- Charles Skillman (1844-1888) made shoes at his home at 144 Lower Street. Born in Kentucky, he was the husband of Emma Skillman (b. 1850 in KY). Charles Skillman is listed in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82.
- Charles Taylor and Charles A. Thomas (b. 1862) were both shoemakers at 138 N. Limestone. Charles Thomas was born in Kentucky, the son of Emma Thompson and the brother of shoemaker John Thomas. Thomas and Taylor are listed separately in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82 but with the same address.
- The William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82 lists two John Toles. The first worked at his home, 80 N. Broadway; the second worked from his home on Vine Street, 3rd door east of Broadway. The older John Toles was born in 1820 in Kentucky.
- John Wilkerson (b. 1832) made shoes on Broadway, 3rd house north of Maxwell Street. His home was on Limestone and Winslow. Wilkerson, born in Kentucky, was the husband of Virginia Wilkerson (b. 1834 in KY). John Wilkerson is listed in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82.
- Nathaniel Wilson (b. 1809 in VA) lived on Limestone and worked from his home, the fifth house south of 6th Street, according to William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82.
- Shoemaker William Vinegar worked out of his business on Cox Street, according to his listing in William's Lexington City Directory 1881-82.
Shoe makers in Lexington listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census:
- Gable Carr (b. 1804) was a shoemaker and the husband of Matilda Carr.
- Albert Diggs (b. 1854), Sanders Diggs (1855-1898), and Edmund Diggs (1857-1912), the sons of Brooks and Emily Carter Diggs, were all born in Kentucky. The family of nine lived in Brucetown. Brooks and his sons were all shoemakers.
- John Latcher (b. 1811) was a widower shoemaker who lived on East Short Street.
- Joseph Reeves (b. 1858) was a shoemaker from West Canada. He lived alone on Upper Street.
- Walter Rhodes (b. 1845) was the husband of Hattie Rhodes, who was born in Kentucky. The couple had two children, the oldest from Walter’s earlier marriage. The family lived on Deweese Street.
- Jack Stopher (b. 1845) was the husband of Minnie Stopher (b. 1850). The family of five were all born in Kentucky and lived in Kinkeadtown.
- John Thomas (b. 1857) is listed above.
- Shoemaker John Tobs (b. 1820), who was also a servant with the Wasfield family, lived with them on Broadway.
- William Vinegar (b. 1849) was a shoemaker in Lexington. He was the husband of Kitty (b. 1859); the couple had 3 children
- Emanuel Wells (b. 1842) was the husband of Harriet Wells. The couple lived with their three children in Adamstown.
Shoemakers listed in the Directory of African Americans in Lexington, Kentucky, 1893, by D. Y. Wilkinson:
- Isaiah Graves at 29 Ballard Street.
- Charles Green worked for F. King. His address was 24 Wickliffe Street.
- William S. Irvine at 57 Megowan Street.
- John Latcher at 55 E. Water Street.
- Wallace Maxberry at 5 Drake Street.
- Henry Nichols (b. 1860 in KY) at 79 S. Limestone. He was the husband of Susan Nichols. In 1900, the couple lived on Corral Street, according to the U.S. Federal Census.
- Isaiah Stone at 11 Blackburn Street.
- Charles Thurston at 57 Megowan Street.
Shoemakers in Lexington mentioned in newspapers:
- George Robinson (1863-1911) A shoemaker born in Kentucky, he died in 1911 after being burned in a fire at his home at 180 Locust Avenue in Lexington, KY. Source: Lexington Leader, 8/28/1911, p. 1. Robinson was a widow, according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census.